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News of Otsego County

Francesca Zambello

Ruth Bader Ginsburg And Otsego County

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

And Otsego County

Kay Pierro, center, top row, took her friend, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, waterskiing one summer when she came to visit.

By LIBBY CUDMORE• Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – One summer, while visiting Cooperstown, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsberg had a request for her friend, Kay Pierro.

“She wanted to go waterskiing!” Pierro said.

“So I asked around for a friend who had a boat to take her on, but (federal marshals) needed to follow in a second boat, so I had to ask around for another.

“She tried so hard to get up, but the skis we had were too long for her.”

Ginsburg, 87, who has starred in an “Opera & Law” presentation every summer since 2013 (except this one) at the Glimmerglass Festival, died Friday, Sept 18, from pancreatic cancer.

Pierro first met Ginsburg when Jane Forbes Clark hired her to cook for the justice and her husband, Marty, who were staying in Miss Clark’s guest house for the weekend in 2004.

“My husband always called it ‘the improbable friendship,’” Pierro said. “She was a Supreme Court justice and I was just a cook, but she was the kindest, warmest, most gentle person I have ever known.”

They stayed in contact for years, and Ginsburg frequently invited her to events, including to the Supreme Court itself and to the unveiling of her portrait at the New England School of Law in Boston. “My son graduated from there, and when she found out, she invited us both to the ceremony,” said Pierro. “She would bring me gifts back from Europe, and we would write to each other.”

Glimmerglass’ music & general director, Francesca Zambello, had struck up a friendship with Ginsburg after she directed Beethoven’s “Fidelio” at the National Opera House in 2003.

“She wrote me a letter and said it was her favorite production of ‘Fidelio’ that she had ever seen,” Zambello said.

“I saw her at the Washington National Opera right before the pandemic,” she continued. “And she had her tickets reserved for this year’s Glimmerglass Festival. We’re all mourning her passing.”

When Zambello became head of the Festival in 2010, she invited Ginsburg and her family to attend the shows. “She had visited when Paul Kellogg was director, but we began talking about doing a program about opera and the law, since so many of them involve contracts and wrong-doing,” she said.

“And I thought, how wonderful it would be if I could engage her in our love of opera together in a way the public could appreciate.”

The program started in 2013 and was a sell-out every summer. “It was one of our most successful programs,” she said.

In 2017, the Festival produced “Scalia/Ginsburg,”
a comic opera about the friendship between Ginsburg and fellow Justice Antonin Scalia.

“After one performance, she came and spoke about him, which was great,” said Zambello. “He never visited Glimmerglass, but I would see him at the National Opera, and they would sit on opposite sides of the aisle. They disagreed all day, but at night they would share this passion for opera.”

Following the news of her death, a vigil was held on the steps of the Otsego County Courthouse, where Village Trustee Richard Sternberg and Dave Pearlman, retired CCS high school principal, led the gathering in Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer of mourning.

“People were very moved,” said Sternberg.

Sternberg had met Ginsburg several times; his cousin was a protégée and student of her husband, Marty Ginsburg, at Columbia Law School. “When my nephew was born, I found myself standing next to a short, very slight lady at his bris,” Sternberg said. “She was introduced to me as Judge Ginsburg, but I didn’t think much of it.”

He saw her at several other events, including his nephew’s Bar Mitzvah. “She was a Supreme Court justice then, and I made the connection,” he said. “I didn’t say much, which was unusual for me.”

At his niece’s Bat Mitzvah, he overheard another woman ask about the famous lace on her collar. “She told the story that she and Sandra Day O’Connor thought that since Judge (William) Rehnquist put gold stripes on his robes, that they would put lace on theirs as a response,” he said.

Though he often saw Ginsburg at the Festival, he declined to introduce himself again. “I was intimidated, plus she had bodyguards,” he said.

Zambello said the Festival is beginning to look at ways to honor her legacy during next year’s season.

“She loved the Festival and was very proud of what we were doing with social justice,” she said. “But she also loved a good ‘La Boheme.’ She really was our greatest spokesperson.”

“We had a wonderful relationship,” said Pierro. “She was a real treasure.”

ZAMBELLO: On Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Opera

RUTH BADER GINSBURG AT GLIMMERGLASS

‘These Dark Archangels,

Will They Be Conquered?’

As the Glimmerglass Festival’s general & music director, Francesca Zambello hosted Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in an “Opera and Law” program nine summers in a row in Cooperstown.

As many people may know, the Young Artist Program at the Glimmerglass Festival is an integral part of our work. One of our recent alumni, Alexandria Shiner (last seen as Bertha in the Barber of Seville 2018), went on to become part of the Cafritz Young Artist Program at the Washington National Opera and to win the first prize of the Met auditions.

A few weeks before COVID closed everything, Ali took the lead role in a version of Gian Carlo Menotti’s “The Consul” in the Supreme Court’s private chambers. The opportunity came about because Justice Ginsburg held occasional musicales at the Court, carrying on a tradition started by Sandra Day O’Connor.

Rob Ainsley, the director of the Cafritz Young Artist Program, and I wanted to do something different than just a concert. We asked Justice Ginsburg if we could present a one-hour version of “The Consul,” an opera that deals with immigration issues not unlike those currently being hotly debated.

We had already presented the opera in various locations as a kind of outreach work, but all these were previews leading up to what we felt would be our most important showing of the piece.

We arrived in the morning to rehearse in the chambers like a funny band of traveling players carrying our costumes and props into the Supreme Court.

How strange – and how moving – to be telling this story of political dissidents, government overstep and visa frustrations before an audience of men and women who had sworn to uphold our country’s ideals.

RBG always loved meeting the new young artists and this was a special year. I still remember Ali, as Magda, staring into the eyes of one justice after another as she sang these words:

To this we’ve come:
that men withhold the world from men.
No ship nor shore for him who drowns at sea.
No home nor grave for him who dies on land.

To this we’ve come:
that man be born a stranger upon God’s earth,
that he be chosen without a chance for choice,
that he be hunted without the hope of refuge.

To this we’ve come.
(To the Secretary)
And you, you too shall weep!
If to men, not to God, we now must pray,
tell me, Secretary, tell me,
who are these men?
If to them, not to God, we now must pray…

Who are these dark archangels?
Will they be conquered? Will they be doomed?
Is there one, anyone behind those doors
to whom the heart can still be explained?
Is there one, anyone, who still may care?
Tell me, Secretary, tell me!

As she threw the papers in the air screaming “Papers, Papers,” the room felt electric. I shall never forget this, nor will anyone there.

RBG, with a wink, told me how she loved the simple and direct performance of “The Consul” so close to the halls of justice. I am grateful for all she gave to our Festival over the past decade.

Glimmerglass Festival Out

Glimmerglass Festival Out

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special To AllOTSEGO.com

Francesca Zambello

COOPERSTOWN – With the curtain on “The Sound of Music” scheduled to rise in just two months, the Glimmerglass Festival has announced it will not host any live performances this summer.

“It was our hope this summer to gather at the Festival,” Francesca Zambello, artistic director, said Tuesday, May 5. “But it became clear that, for all our safety, we cannot gather together to perform
the beautiful season we had planned for you.”

Following Governor Cuomo’s order prohibiting attractions that would draw a large number of visitors, the Glimmerglass Festival Board of Trustees made its decision.

The festival was slated to perform “Don Giovanni,” “Rinaldo,” “Die Feen
(The Fairies)” and “The Jungle Book.”

However, the festival will continue its educational pro-grams, including the 2020 Young Artists program, Summer Internship Program and its local Youth Opera Program.

“Public performances are only the tip of the iceberg,” Zambello said. “Behind the scenes, the company invests an enormous amount of energy in training the young people who make up the future of the art form (through) group workshops and one-on-one mentoring from established professionals.”
The festival is also planning “a robust selection of virtual opportunities.”

The Glimmerglass Festival is late to the table.

Other local cultural institutions, including The Farmers’ Museum, Fenimore Art Museum and Hyde Hall, remain closed at present, but all intend to open as soon as the governor declares it is safe to do so.

“The museum is nothing without people,” said Paul D’Ambrosio, Fenimore and Farmers’ president. “We are preparing for an eventual reopening, with all procedures and guidelines in place.”

Meanwhile, each is offering virtual programs. The Farmers’ focus is on crafts and cooking; The Fenimore on collection highlights and open mic nights, Hyde Hall with a new series on the mansion’s lighting, which was cutting-edge technologically in the 19th century.

“We want to create a virtual museum experience,” said Jon Maney, Hyde Hall executive director.“It’s a good way to keep present in people’s minds, to make them interested for when they can come here.”

Similarly, the festival will take its Town Hall series virtual, starting with a Live Conversation with Zambello and Music Director Joseph Colaneri.

“A huge part of the Festival’s mission is to inspire dialogue around meaningful issues through storytelling and music,” Zambello said. “I am very excited about the prospect of bringing our Town Hall discussions to a potentially wider audience.”

Though Hyde Hall is closed, Maney has invited visitors to tour the grounds and sit on the porch overlooking Otsego Lake.

When tours can resume, he said, they will likely be by reservation only.

GLIMMERGLASS FESTIVAL CANCELS 2020 SEASON

Educational Programs, Town Halls Go Virtual

GLIMMERGLASS FESTIVAL

CANCELS ’20 LIVE SEASON

Glimmerglass Festival, as Glimmerglass Opera, has held a summer season annually since 1975. (Glimmerglass Festival photo)

COOPERSTOWN – The Glimmerglass Festival will not host any live performances this summer, according to a release sent a few minutes ago.

“As theater people, we are accustomed to problem solving,” Artistic & General Director Francesca Zambello said. “We had already adjusted plans and schedules in the hope we might be able to welcome company members and audience members for a Festival this summer.

“But in considering the health and safety of our artists and staff, and following New York State and CDC recommendations, we must now instead focus on how we can provide an opportunity for people to come together around song and story — without coming together in person,” she said.

Glimmerglass Festival ‘Hopeful’ For Summer Season

CLICK HERE FOR TEXT OF LETTER

Glimmerglass Festival 2020

‘Hopeful’ For Summer Season

Francesca Zambello

COOPERSTOWN – Though New York State remains under a state of emergency until the end of April, Francesca Zambello, Artistic & Creative Director, Glimmerglass Festival, is trying to stay optimistic that the season will open as scheduled.

“We are still hopeful that we will see you this summer,” she wrote in a letter sent earlier this afternoon. With so much unknown at this time, and with all New York State businesses either closed or functioning remotely, we are unable to make firm plans at this time.”

Glimmerglass’ Zambello Advises Fans: Decision On Season Due In Two Weeks

Glimmerglass’ Zambello

Advises Fans: Decision On

Season Due In Two Weeks

‘Sound Of Music’ Opening Due On July 11

Glimmerglass Festival, as Glimmerglass Opera, has held a summer season annually since 1975. (Glimmerglass Festival photo)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Francesca Zambello

COOPERSTOWN – In a letter to the “Glimmerglass family” dated today, Artistic & Creative Director Francesca Zambello said “possible scenarios on the 2020 schedule are being examined” and it will be for “the next two weeks” before a decision is made on the future of the upcoming season.

During that time, “we will be heavily weighing what is happening in the world and our local community, and will keep you updated,” said Zambello.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2019
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18

Artist Talk With Opera Art Director

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ANGEL TREE PROGRAM – Give the Gift of Christmas this holiday season. Adopt a family in need. Visit www.allotsego.com/angel-tree-program/ to learn how.

ARTIST TALK – 6:30 p.m. Cocktails and conversation with Francesca Zambello, Artistic & General Director of Glimmerglass Festival and Pulitzer Prize winning poet Paul Muldoon. Light hors d’oeuvres will be served with a cash bar. $25 donation benefits Klinkhart Hall Arts Center. Klinkhart Hall Arts Center, 191 Main St., Sharon Springs. For reservations, call 518-284-2105 or visit www.klinkhart.org

Broadway Musicals Are Nation’s Operas, Glimmerglass Staple

Broadway Musicals

Are Nation’s Operas,

Glimmerglass Staple

Internationally known, the Glimmerglass Festival’s General & Musical Director Francesca Zambello is also artistic director of The Washingtion National Opera at the Kennedy Center. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO,com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – Since Francesca Zambello became general & music director at the Glimmerglass Festival in 2011, one show has been in the back of her mind.

“I’ve always wanted to do ‘Show Boat’,” she said. “It’s one that I’ve always had on our docket.”

The Oscar Hammerstein-penned musical, which deals with family and racism in post-Reconstruction Mississippi, is set to open the festival season this Saturday, July 6, in a season that includes “La Traviata,” “The Ghosts of Versailles” and the world premier of “Blue,” a new opera by Tony Award winning composer Jeanine Tesori, whose credits include “Fun Home” and “Shrek The Musical.”

“Blue,” commissioned by the Festival, tells the story of a black Harlem police officer and his wife as they deal with the loss of their teenage son in a police-involved shooting.

“It’s an interesting arc from ‘Show Boat’ to ‘Blue,’” said Zambello. “They both deal with issues of race in America, with one written in 1927 and the other in 2019. There’s a thematic connection.”

For her, bringing a musical to the festival was part of bringing in a wider audience. “The musical is America’s opera, and it’s never been fully embraced,” she said. “When we changed the name to the Glimmerglass Festival, I thought a classic musical would encourage new audiences.”

That season, the Festival presented “Annie Get Your Gun,” (1947) starring soprano Deborah Voigt. “It’s a classic American musical,” she said.

Since then, the Festival has staged “Camelot,” “Carousel,” “Oklahoma,” “The Music Man” and
“West Side Story.”

“‘West Side Story’ was the most tickets we’ve ever sold,” she said. “We added three shows. It’s in people’s DNA.”

The Festival’s production of “West Side Story” just finished in Chicago and is headed to Italy. “Our ‘Porgy and Bess’ played in Cincinnati, and after this season, ‘Ghost of Versailles’ will be performed at Versailles, and ‘Blue’ will head to Chicago and Washington D.C.” said Zambello. “These productions carry our brand and our way of thinking all over the world.”

And the Festival’s unique space lends itself well to the traditional musical. “So many of them were written without major amplification,” she said. “They were written for big voices and a big orchestra. When ‘Show Boat’ was first performed, it was likely performed by people who had opera training.”

“When you see a Broadway show,” she continued, “or a revival on tour, if you hear 22 musicians it’s a miracle. You’re basically having an acoustic experience.”

The musicals also serve as a bridge for the Festival’s Young Artists and musical theater interns. “There’s a cross-pollination there,” she said. “And four of our Young Artists are doing musical theater on Broadway right now.”

In addition to performances at the Festival, “Show Boat” will also be performed at Attica Correctional Facility as part of the Festival’s commitment to outreach and social justice.

“The Constitution says ‘We The People,’” she said. “We think about that a lot here.”

So far, Zambello said, tickets have been selling well, with several shows already sold out. “We don’t want you to be disappointed that you can’t get tickets,” she said. “And last year, we had a lot of disappointed people.”

Trustees Votes to Strengthen Anti-Bigotry Proclamation

Trustees Votes to Strengthen

Anti-Bigotry Proclamation

By JENNIFER HILL• Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Sternberg

COOPERSTOWN –Two weeks after high school boys allegedly attacked another student and shouted homophobic slurs, the Cooperstown Board of Trustees voted in its meeting this morning “unanimously and loudly” to strengthen a 2016 proclamation that the village welcomes people of all backgrounds and does not tolerate acts of bigotry.

“I think it’s important to reiterate how much we in Cooperstown deplore racist and homophobic behavior,” said Richard Sternberg, one of the Trustees who spearheaded the action and vote.  “I found it very heartening we did this.”

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, AUGUST 19
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, AUGUST 19

Antique Power

Days Tractor Show

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ANTIQUE TRACTORS – 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Antique tractors, engines, working exhibits on display. All brands, sizes, shapes, colors, conditions accepted. Fun for all. Roseboom. 607-264-9327 or visit www.farmershotline.com/farm-events/18th-annual-roseboom-antique-power-days

ART LECTURE – 2 p.m. “Leonardo Davinci and the Human Body, Earthly and Divine” investigating Davinci’s anatomical studies when he pursued knowledge through observation/experimentation, and his iconic paintings where he tried to portray an ideal beauty of man that related to God. Cost, $11/non-member. Auditorium, Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1400 or visit www.fenimoreartmuseum.org/calendar-a

Zambello’s “Little Prince” Debuts in Cooperstown

Glimmerglass’ ‘Little Prince’

Features Local Performers

Playing The Little Prince, Holden Browne stands and sings on top of a prop plane, the centerpiece of the set for  Francesca Zambello’s production of “The Little Prince.”  Zambello, Glimmerglass general & artistic director, recruited members of the Washington National Opera to perform in major roles, and brought in local children to perform in the children’s choir for the opera. (Parker Fish/AllOTSEGO.com)
Zambello, Malhotra Among ‘Be Positive Fest’ Headliner
CLICK FOR FULL ‘BE POSITIVE FEST’ SCHEDULE

Zambello, Malhotra Among

‘Be Positive Fest’ Headliners

COOPERSTOWN – Glimmerglass Festival Artistic & General Director Francesca Zambello and her spouse Faith Gay, the corporate lawyer, will speak on “Art & Justice” at 3:15 p.m. in the First Presbyterian Church chapel at Saturday’s Be Positive Festival.

Other headliners will include Virginia Kennedy, former Otsego Land trust executive director, returning to discuss environmental justice, and retired SUNY Oneonta Philosophy Professor Ashok Malhotra, a Nobel Prize nominee.

Here is the complete schedule of Be Positive Festival speakers:

Glimmerglass Staff Reflects On Opera Theater Architect
READ HUGH HARDY’S TIMES OBITUARY

Glimmerglass Staff Reflects

 On Opera Theater Architect

Hugh Hardy
Hardy’s Alice Bush Opera Theater featured sliding side walls that allows audience to enjoy the rural setting during intermissions.

COOPERSTOWN – At 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, The Glimmerglass Festival staff dimmed the stagelights and shared memories of Hugh Hardy, the architect of the Alice Bush Opera Theater who died Thursday, March 16.

Built in 1987, Hardy’s design, with its sliding side walls, capitalized on the rural surroundings while providing audiences the chance to experience opera and musical theater locally. He served as an adviser to the company for 35 years, including 13 as a member of the Board of Trustees.

Meanwhile, the festival’s leadership issued statements of praise on Hardy’s passing.

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